Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers stay cautious with LB Shaq Thompson’s hamstring injury

Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson (95) left Sunday’s practice early because of an ankle injury, but coach Ron Rivera did not think the injury is serious.
Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson (95) left Sunday’s practice early because of an ankle injury, but coach Ron Rivera did not think the injury is serious. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

A couple of injured Panthers players returned from injuries Sunday, but the team’sfirst-round draft pick remains limited with a hamstring injury.

Shaq Thompson, an outside linebacker from Washington, participated in position drills but did not see a lot of work in the team portions of practice.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera says the team is taking a cautious approach with Thompson, who first strained the hamstring during rookie minicamp in May. Thompson, who missed most of OTAs while finishing his classes at Washington, was re-injured last week and sat out a practice.

He briefly rode the exercise bike during Sunday’s practice.

“We’ve just got to be careful. It’s one of those things where right now it’s just about learning and growing,” Rivera said. “But at the same time you don’t want to put a guy in position where it will linger, and especially hamstrings. Those are kind of nagging.”

A.J. Klein, a third-year player from Iowa State, has been taking the first-team reps alongside middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and outside linebacker Thomas Davis.

Two players were back in action Sunday: defensive tackle Kawann Short (back), tight end Ed Dickson (groin). Short, who became a starter the second half of last season, missed the first week of camp with back spasms.

“It’s good to have KK back. The back calmed down,” Rivera said. “He had (the spasms) a couple years ago, and this year it flared up a little bit. So they were able to treat it. Exercise and therapy seems to get it calmed down. It was good to have him on the field.”

Defensive end Charles Johnson (ankle) and offensive lineman Amini Silatolu (calf strain) left practice early, but Rivera said neither injury is considered serious.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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